|OLYMPIA — A Pacific marten has been recorded by a motion-triggered wildlife camera, marking the first time the species has been spotted by camera survey in the Olympic National Forest.
Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo partnered with the Olympic National Forest last summer to install six motion-triggered camera and scent-dispenser stations in the national forest in hopes of detecting martens, a rare native carnivore believed to live there in very small numbers. A month ago, the survey team returned to the station and discovered several photos of a single Pacific marten, which had visited the station in January.
Only two dozen marten sightings have been confirmed in the Olympic Peninsula over the past half-century, with half of those attributed to surveys with remote cameras and scent diffusers in recent years. and all within Olympic National Park.
The Forest Service sent us 3 photos of the small, domestic cat-sized member of the weasel family, which also includes wolverines, anglers, and otters. We posted one of the photos with this story on our website at myclallamcounty.com.
Historically, marten populations in Washington State were found primarily in two regions, the Cascade Range and the Olympic Peninsula. In the Cascades, their number seems relatively stable.
But on the Olympic Peninsula, due to over-trapping and habitat loss in the 1900s, they appear to have disappeared at lower elevations and declined at higher elevations.
In 2017, Woodland Park Zoo partnered with Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park to conduct winter surveys, pairing cameras with timed scent diffusers to regularly release a small amount of attractive lures.
The project aims to gather enough information about the Olympic Peninsula marten population to make informed decisions about marten conservation.